Neurio/Nevries (Crescent Shaped Sweet Puffs) ~ Traditional Mangalorean Kuswar

It's been a year since this blog was reborn - I cannot write further unless I thank the people who believed in me & with a word of encouragement, a gentle nudge & a loving (?) kick got me to revive this blog - I haven't looked back ever since and I hope to carry on with as much passion & enthusiasm as I have done the whole year through in recording the recipes that I try out in my kitchen. So thanks to my friend May, cousin Prema & hubby Roshan who in various ways (in the order mentioned above) coaxed me to continue writing this blog. My biggest support has been my hubby to whom I dedicate this post. Neurio??? You may ask, well, yes, although he is my biggest critic and the one who gives me a thumbs up or thumbs down signal each time something is whipped up in my kitchen, he was travelling when I made the Neurio and didn't get even a crumb to eat when he returned. So yes, this is for you Roshan - feast your eyes on these pics, willya! 

I am sure most of you have eaten the Neurio which are are popularly called as Karanji with slight variations in the filling. Karanjis are made especially during Diwali, at least in South India and are a significant item on the Kuswar platter as well during Christmas. In my opinion Neurios are best made at home as the filling is fresh, fragrant & juicy - unlike the store bought variety which is made weeks in advance and tastes rancid (stale) if you have been unlucky enough to pick up old stock.

Making Neurio (Nevries) at home is lots of fun. Among all the Kuswar items I learnt to make them first from my MIL a few years ago. It is one sweet that falls into the dual category - simple yet complex - simple because technically it's not as difficult as it looks - the dough & the filling is damn easy to make and complex only in terms of the steps involved in doling out each Nevri. Make the dough, prepare the mixture for the filling, roll out puris, place the filling, fold, cut the edges, deep fry! So yes, an extra pair of hands can be a blessing. But people like me who live away from home and have no help beyond a pair of 3 year old hands which generously help by eating up half the mixture can also make it with great elan!

Describing a Nevri is what I like to do best - a crescent shaped sweet samosa with a crunchy exterior and a delightful centre - a filling made of sesame, cashewnuts, poppy seeds, kopra , raisins, sugar (or jaggery) & cardamom - is like a coming together of a large family made up of a variety of members, their characters, temperaments, shapes, sizes & nuances - each bringing in a special flavour & fragrance into the family - the presence of all brings great sweetness into one's life and an absence of even one is greatly felt. 
Such are our Indian festivals - the great Indian family that comes together brings all this & more. This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes 

~ "A family that prays together & eats together definitely stays together" ~

Neurio/Sweet Puffs
Yield: approx 25-27

You Need:

For the dough:
For the filling:
For deep frying

To make the dough
1. In a large wide bowl mix the maida, rawa and the salt and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the warm water working your way towards kneading the mixture. Initially the mixture will look like bread crumbs. Use the heel of your palm to knead into a smooth dough. This can take 5-7 minutes, add parts of the reserved water until your dough is smooth & pliable. Reserve any remaining water aside.
2. Cover the dough with a damp cloth for a few minutes until required.

To make the filling
1. Heat a tawa/skillet and roast the sesame seeds, broken cashewnuts, grated coconut & poppy seeds one by one on a slow flame until just about roasted. Do not over roast them as they will turn bitter.
2. Mix all the ingredients (except the raisins & kopra) in a large bowl & add the powdered sugar. Transfer this mixture on to the hot tawa once again and continue to stir until the entire mixture turns sticky (as the sugar begins to melt). Keep aside

To assemble
1. Make small lime size balls out of the dough, dust with a little flour and roll them into thin flat circles, the size of puris.
2. Place about 1 tsp of the sticky mixture right in the centre of the puri, place a couple of slivers of kopra and raisins each on the mixture.
3. Use the reserved water to moisten the edges of the puri - this helps to seal the edges as the water acts as a glue between the edges. Fold the puri in half such that it forms a crescent shape (semi circle). Seal the edges carefully and use a cookie cutting blade/pizza cutter to trim the jagged edges or just use a fork to make a pretty design around the edges.
4. Repeat the steps until all the filling has been used up. Retain the extra dough (if any) to make Tukdi (recipe to follow)

To deep fry
1. Heat oil on a medium high flame for deep frying in a large heavy bottomed wide kadhai or wok. Test the preparedness of the oil by dropping a small ball of dough into the oil. If it comes up to the surface immediately (within 2-3 seconds) the oil is ready for deep frying.
2. Depending on how large your kadhai is carefully drop 6-7 nevris into the hot oil and fry both the sides till golden in colour.
3. Remove using a slotted colander, drain excess oil and transfer the nevris onto an absorbent kitchen towel
4. Let the nevris cool completely before you store it in airtight containers. Nevris keep well for 10-12 days after which the filling may turn rancid.

Pic1: Make lime size balls
Pic2: Roll out the dough into medium sized puris
Pic3: Place the mixture/filling in the centre leaving out enough space around the edges

Pic4: Moisten the edges with water - this helps to seal the edges properly else they will open up while frying
Pic5: Fold the puri into half forming a crescent (half moon) shape. Gently seal the edges with your fingers
Pic6: Trim the edges using a pizza cutter or a fork

Pic7: Drop neuries into the hot oil
Pic8: Fry on both sides and add oil on the surface of the neuries until they puff up
Pic9: Fry till pinkish brown & remove

               Above Pic: You can either use a cookie/pizza cutter or a fork to trim the edges or make a design

It is preferable not to roast the raisins as they taste sour when you eat the nevri, you can just place them onto  the mixture while preparing the neuries
If you still have some dough remaining after using up all the mixture you can make simple salted Thukdi out of it (recipe to follow)

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